August 21, 2018
While Netflix bingers may be accustomed to the occasional “Are you still watching?” interruption, some subscribers are now experiencing 10- to 20-second promotional videos, and complaints have suggested that the videos cannot be skipped or muted. Similar to traditional commercials, the videos appear between episodes, reminding users about various series available on the streaming service. The company explained on Sunday that it is merely testing the promotional videos and they can actually be skipped. Netflix did not indicate how many of its more than 100 million subscribers are experiencing the tests.
“These video promos are actually personalized recommendations for titles we think a member may enjoy watching,” explained spokesperson Smita Saran. “In this particular case, we are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster.”
“Saran said that the company does not comment on where such tests are conducted but that they are customarily done globally,” reports The New York Times. “Netflix runs hundreds of tests and some are incorporated into the service as features that subscribers can use, while others are invisible.”
Netflix typically observes subscriber behavior during tests, and then welcomes feedback before making any potential new features permanent.
Ars Technica has been monitoring the primary Netflix Reddit community, where members have been commenting on promotional videos for “Better Call Saul” and “I Am a Killer” that have been playing during viewings of series such as “Shameless,” “Rick & Morty” and “Bob’s Burgers.”
According to Digital Trends, “Netflix said is paying attention to the user response on social media. However, the company is more concerned about how users interact with the ads in the app itself. If users click on the ads or start consuming content based upon them, then it is likely that Netflix will see the test as a success and roll it out to more users.”